Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Upgrade to "Web 2.0"

Have you heard people talking about "Web 2.0"? The term is getting tossed about quite a bit lately and specific definitions vary. Even Wikipedia is hard-pressed to nail down a single definitive answer as to what it actually means. While I'll leave it up to the experts like David Warlick and others to define it specifically, generally lets just think of Web 2.0 as a 'kicked-up" Internet with a new level of interactivity and collaboration.

In the past, there were two kinds of web users: those who published the information and those who read it. Pretty much anyone could search for and read information on Web pages, but it took a little extra technical skill and know-how to actually produce and post information yourself.

New tools like blogs and wikis have changed that. No longer is the average web user relegated to the role of spectator, but now he/she can also be a contributor. Thanks to these tools, anyone who knows how to browse the web also has the ability to interact with content publishers, add comments and generate their own content as well.

Even the process of searching for news and information has been transformed. Using RSS (Really Simple Syndication) web users no longer have to search for news and information of interest to them. They can select certain news sources or web authors and receive new articles and updates as soon as they are posted simply by "subscribing" to it.

Web 2.0 has taken the Internet beyond e-mail and web pages. It uses the the Internet as a platform to run all sorts of interactive and dynamic applications. As a result we now have things like Google Earth, iTunes (podcasting), Flickr, and many others.

In the hands of a skilled teacher, these tools can become a powerful platform for learning. I hope to post info, lesson ideas, and help sheets (or videos) on some of these tools in future posts. Right now I'm exploring classroom applications for wikis using Wikispaces. More to come...

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